Loving or living with a narcissist is like walking a tight rope, sometimes it's well worth the risk. Other times, it's an exercise in masochism. But sometimes it doesn't feel like love gives us a choice. I'll tell you how to navigate a relationship with a narcissist, what to try, and when to walk away.
First of all, if you want to give the relationship the best chance at survival, get involved in therapy asap. Find a therapist, and hunker down with the one you love to figure out a way to navigate living with narcissism. Although, getting a narcissist to admit that there's problem enough to seek help for can be a challenge. If they refuse to attend therapy, this could very well be a deal-breaker. Without professional help in a relationship with a narcissist, you're likely to end up in a "victim" position.
Take a look at the grand scale of narcissism. Some just have small tendencies, some grew up with parents and live with post-traumatic narcissistic impacts but may NOT be narcissists themselves. Some are full blown, this is why it's so important to get professional help. You can't possibly discern for yourself whether or not the one you love is a diagnosable narcissist, it can feel like a mental maze. So remember, there is a wide range of problems that can affect a narcissist and therefore affect you.
That being said, know that not every narcissist is beyond help. Some may very well be, but others DON'T WANT TO LIVE THIS WAY anymore. They need help to break the cycle and need to be taught a new way to live. This can be a long and involved process, and isn't something you can do for them. So you'll have to ask yourself how committed you are to this person. If you're married, be willing to walk down the road to recovery with them. Do the work together, and you'll reap the rewards together. If you're dating, you deserve to take a step back and realize that you don't have to take ownership of their problems.
When you are in love with a narcissist, life can feel like one drama after the next. So remember not to get completely embroiled in drama, you CAN take a step back and release yourself from all the stress. If someone is a true narcissist, this may throw them for a loop, because they want to world to be centered around them. But it may also serve as a wake-up call for them if they see that their manipulations aren't working.
Don't let trying to make progress or attending therapy become just another drama. If you're not careful, even trying to help a narcissist deal with their personality disorder can become just another way for them to seek attention. Once they learn how to manipulate any situation to get attention, they often will. They're like drama addicts, they want you to think that they can't help it. Depending on the severity of their condition, they genuinely may not be able to.
This would be the time for you to start evaluating whether or not you want to stay in this love relationship. If you're still dating, ask yourself how you got into this relationship and why. Are you using them to fulfill a need? Do they serve as a distraction, a way to ignore yourself or punish yourself? Why are you drawn toward somene so self-involved? There are reasons for everything, and just as you would expect them to do some serious self-examination, you should be willing to do the same.
Ask yourself what all this drama is replacing. What else could you be doing with your time and energy? Love shouldn't hurt. I'm not saying it's not difficult, every great love is worth work. But it shouldn't hurt, you shouldn't feel abused, abandoned, or completely unappreciated. That's a sign that something is VERY WRONG.
Don't make their narcissism your pet project. It may be tempting to get every book on the subject, give them suggestions, or play the role of therapist at home for them. This is NOT YOUR JOB. Love is all about give and take, what are they giving you that YOU need?
Items you will need
- You may need professional help, as I am not a doctor
- You'll want to spend plenty of time researching this personality disorder on your own
- Don't ever diagnose someone with narcissism, this could cause damage. If you aren't a professional, don't make assumptions.
- Sometimes you need to draw a line in the sand, take a day off, a week off, or just spend some time apart.